Original Research

Calvin and human dignity

J.M. Vorster
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 44 | a189 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v44i0.189 | © 2010 J.M. Vorster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 July 2010 | Published: 26 July 2010

About the author(s)

J.M. Vorster, School for Ecclesiastical Studies, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa

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Human dignity has become a major moral directive in the contemporary ethical reflection on human rights and bio-ethics. This article examines the theological foundations laid by the reformer Calvin regarding the inherent dignity of people, and his influence on post-World War ethical reflection about the violations of human rights. In this article his views on the “imago dei” and common grace, the “lex naturae” and the obligations of the civil authority are investigated in order to illuminate his ideas about the dignity of human beings. The article then deals with the influence of these ideas in the influential works of the twentieth century’s reformed theologians Barth, Berkhouwer and Moltmann.


Calvin; Calvinism; Human Dignity; Imago Dei; Lex Nature


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